Last Thursday's discussion and vote on redistricting may have been the Canary warning us of toxic fumes in the House Chamber. At its core, redistricting involves the shifting of lines, and voters, into or out of districts that have loss or gained population. It’s a kind of political “leveling”; required by law, and chocked with opportunity costs. It was this opportunity cost that had my good friends on the other side of the aisle howling at the tops of their lungs. If you want to see the debate, check the KET website. I encourage you to do so.
You know, when we see these seats as being private fiefdoms belonging to us, and we look at voters as if we own them, things get real personal real fast. When we exercise some perceived “ownership” of the districts we represent, it’s easy to feel like “my” voters are being taken away or “my” district is being split apart in these years of redistricting. Well, that didn’t sit well and the Repubs let everyone know it!
They even offered a plan they claimed offered greater fairness. A plan that went so far as to create new Black majority districts in both Lexington and Louisville. Turns out this wasn’t quite cricket… I’m not sure whether they were upset that they were not able to slip something over on us or whether they were upset they got called out for trying. Either way, the sparks flamed up again on Tuesday and the Canaries began to sing once again.
Republican Leader, Jeff Hoover, used editorials from around the state to confirm their allegation that politics played a role in the redistricting plan passed on Thursday. He called for an apology from Speaker Stumbo for intimating there was a discriminatory or racial component to any vote for the plan offered by the Repub standard-bearer, Rep. Joseph Fischer.
Now let me ask you this. How can there NOT be a racial component to a plan that allegedly created two Black majority voting districts? Of course there was a racial component. The Repubs were attempting to use it to gain Democrat support for their plan and Speaker Stumbo was calling anyone voting for their plan as voting to violate the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
I hope no one is holding their breath waiting on that apology from the Speaker.
And so they sing, those wise Canaries….
State Rep. Reginald K. Meeks